teaching how to make folding spoons

It’s that time of the year again, the summer round of green woodworking festivals is about to kick off. I shall be going to the Spoon gathering at Milan, Minnesota, where I’ll be teaching a pre-fest course making and decorating Breton-style one-piece spoons. Then back to Greenwood Fest in Massachusetts the following week. It’s here I’ll be teaching making a folding spoon for the pre-fest course. This is going to be the only time i teach this course this year.

The two presentations of the same course that I gave last year were great fun, if a little shattering for me! The skills needed by course participants are not particularly high, but there is a great deal of precise detail for me to to explain, so I don’t get any let-up for the two and a half days of each course. I quickly learnt which processes needed lots more explanation, or just needed to be described differently. However, both courses went very well, with everyone managing to successfully make their own folding spoon. Some even made two!

This is a picture of the spoons made by all the participants at Spoonfest last August.

We proceed in a step-by-step manner, as I daren’t let participants run on ahead - there are far too many pitfalls!  People in each group who are quicker than others are able to make another spoon in parallel while the less-experienced people catch-up, letting everyone work happily at their own pace.  To supplement my explanations and the demonstration spoon that I make in parallel with everyone else, I have made a set of examples to give people a clear idea of each major stage. Its easier when you can see exactly what it is you are trying to make.

I provided notes to participants last year, giving an outline of how the spoons are made. These notes formed the basis of the book that I am hoping to have ready for Greenwood Fest this year called ‘Make a Folding Spoon’. Its in comic format, and is a blow-by-blow fully-illustrated description of the whole process from start to finish, with patterns, and notes about some of the background geometry for those who are interested. I have also included examples of some of the more common mistakes that even the old Breton spoon makers made, plus a section on how to design your own folding spoon if you are feeling adventurous. I’m still not sure if I’ll have copies available for sale, but I will certainly have at least one example for people to have a look at.

As I never had any formal woodworking training I have been fortunate to learn lots of useful techniques from my students and from colleagues. For example, I have adopted the method of using of masking tape to mark out the hinge pieces, which is a big improvement on the method I taught this last year.  Teaching the courses and writing the book have enabled me to refine and standardise my methods of folding spoon making. I have had to think really hard about what order I do each process and what would be the outcome of doing them in a different order, or in a different way.

So, if you want to come along in June and learn to make a folding spoon, I’m told there are places still available. Here’s the link: https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details


  1. Very exciting news, thank you Professor Mickelborough! I think I speak for all of us not able to make it to the Greenwood Festival when I ask when these will be available to the general public

    1. Hopefully by the end of May 2018. If you send me a message via this site I will notify you when the book is available. Thanks Jane

  2. so sorry I missed the Greenwood Fest this year in MA...I only live a couple of hours from there..it would certainly have been an honor to meet you! Hopefully when the festival returns you will also return to the US. I so enjoy your FB site and the knowledge you share with your tools and incredible spoons...thank you so much! Sincerely Georgiann Burdette

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